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Chapter 9: Understanding Groups and Managing Work Teams

To get started…

…revise the chapter’s input on teams and teamwork on pages 246-261.  Particularly, take notice of Figure 9.3 on page 251 addressing cohesion and productivity, and Figure 9.5 on page 254, which tells you of the factors relevant for effective teams.  Then check out the story of Geelong council in Victoria getting dismissed

When councils misbehave

City councils are really the most evident form of government that people experience: they are responsible for all of the day-to-day things we live with, like street signs, safety, traffic, waste management, and other basic services which everyone uses.  They are a form of Australian local government, and they usually get elected. 

Maybe because they do not star the national news, local government can suffer from big problems, and not even get noticed.  For example, many councils experienced corruption with regards to planning and construction, or other forms of dysfunction.  Today we will look at Geelong Council which was dismissed by the Victorian government after its dysfunction was deemed beyond repair.

Bullying and harassment were apparently prevalent in the council.  It sounds like female members often suffered from abusive language, and there were allegations that the senior officers deliberately blocked business people who wanted to grow their businesses. 

When the former mayor of Geelong, Keith Fagg, appointed Dr Russell Walker as the executive director of Enterprise Geelong, this brought into the council a person who wanted to address these problems.  Together with Geelong psychologist Gary McMullen he tried to bring these problems to light.  In response to his attempts to address these problems, Dr Walker was rejected by council members. 

Finally, after Dr Walker ‘blew the whistle’ and reported these problems, and an investigation was led by former sex discrimination commissioner Susan Halliday in October 2015.  Major problems were found with the way staff were treated, including bullying.  It has been over 12 months since the report, and the issues were not addressed, so the Victorian government has now dismissed the council. 

But dismissing the council does not end the complications: who will take their place?  Elections are not scheduled for another four years.  In the meantime, Victoria’s government decided to appoint an administrator until 2020. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Definitions of groups and teams
  • Types of teams
  • Teams effectiveness model
  • Team roles


Consider the following questions for discussion… 

  1. Is this article describing a group or a team?  Why?
  2. What type of group or team would this be?  Note, the characteristics of more than one type would apply here.  What are they?
  3. How cohesive do you think the council was?  And how do you think this cohesion affected its productivity?  Why?
  4. If you look at the team effectiveness model, what elements would you say Geelong’s council got right?  And what is it missing?  How could it be better addressed?
  5. What roles can you identify in in the council, and who is fulfilling those roles?